Kira Puru: An unmissable name on the Midsumma Extravaganza

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Kira Puru: An unmissable name on the Midsumma Extravaganza

Kira Puru
Photo credit: Mark Gambino
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words by sidonie bird de la coeur

Emerging out of lockdown in full force with her latest release Talk With Me, Kira Puru is set to appear as a part of this summer's Midsumma Extravaganza lineup.

Since her arrival in 2013, Kira Puru has been making waves in Naarm’s music scene, with countless festival appearances and collaborations with the likes of Paul Kelly, Illy and Urthboy.

We sat down to chat with Kira ahead of their appearance at Midsumma Extravaganza, a huge celebration of queerness set amongst the open-air amphitheatre of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on January 21.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Having recently signed to the Australian branch of the French label Believe, her latest single Talk With Me marks Kira’s first recorded track in nearly two-and-a-half years. “I’ve been sitting on a whole bunch of songs, I was meant to put an album out in 2020, but things went… ya know, wrong.”

Returning to the world of recording after an arduous lockdown, Talk With Me was written alongside long-term friend and collaborator Andrew Burford (Hilltop Hoods/Sia), produced by Adam Hyde (Peking Duk/Keli Holiday) and mixed and mastered by Dave Hammer (Lime Cordiale/flowerkid).

“[Recording is] such a personal thing – it’s such an intimate process […] I’m really lucky because the people that I worked on the song with are all people that I know and love and really trust. That was sort of like, a nice little cushioning thing to have on the first release back.”

A track about the rapid infatuation that comes with having a crush on someone (or ‘being mad horny’ according to her Instagram), Talk With Me marked a return to the world of recording for Kira. “As much as I can say it was exciting, it was great, it was thrilling, I felt like I was back in the place that I really belong, it also kind of felt like … really scary and challenging,” they recall. “Lots of feelings of tension, just feeling invalid and whether what I am doing is good. 

So, there was a duality there. But – I’m so happy to be back. I kind of went through a tumultuous six months kind of getting that all together and now I feel like I can do anything.”

With a fiercely confident stage presence that translates directly to their whip-smart online persona, Puru is no stranger to calling out systemic injustice, including a misspelling of her surname as ‘Piru’ across the promotion of two festivals in 2018. 

“That happened a few years ago – it was two festivals in the same year – and I, being the loudmouth that I am, called it out as a lowkey microaggression.

“If you can spell SKEGGZ, you can spell my name.

“It’s interesting to reflect back on that now because I was talking to a friend about how PANIA was credited as Barkaa on the red carpet at the ARIAs, and that’s an issue – because it insinuates that all people of colour look the same. And no one really cared to change it, or make an announcement, or make a public apology or anything and it’s interesting to see that the public response to this has been so much more than it would have a couple of years ago. 

“When I called the festivals on what they did [back in 2018], the response was largely that I’m a snowflake and I should get over it. 

“I discussed this with my agent and we put into my contract that if you spell my name wrong in promotional materials, you have to pay twice my fee and it’s never happened since – and isn’t that funny? Coz people seem to respect money more than they respect me and my culture and my identity, which is really important to me. 

“It’s interesting, because the ‘innocent mistakes’ that happened so frequently before, suddenly don’t happen anymore, which just tells me that it’s not that hard to get it right.”

Appearing at his year’s Midsumma Extravaganza, the opening party that’s set to kick off Australia’s largest pride season, Kira Puru will perform alongside fellow musicians and comedians in a diverse and inclusive celebration of Naarm’s queer culture.

“Midsumma is such an iconic thing to occur,” Kira says. “I’ve been involved in it on and off for as long as I’ve been in Melbourne – eight or so years, maybe more.

“It is really, truly a celebration of culture – it’s really diverse and dynamic even within itself. It’s so nice to be invited back.”

Hosted by legends in their own right Joel Creasy and Kween Kong, it all goes down amongst the open-air amphitheatre of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on January 21. The event will feature comedy from Nina Oyama, Rhys Nicholson, Kirsty Webeck and Scout Boxall and musical performances from Courtney Act, Mama Alto, Dolly Diamond, Tash York, Tina Del Twist, Jordan Raskopoulos, Lou Wall, Brendan Maclean, Steven Oliver – and of course, Kira Puru.

“I think we all go through doubting ourselves and how much we can own our own identities, whatever they may be,” they continue. “I have my own doubts about whether or not I’m ‘queer enough’ to be seen in this context.

So to be invited to something that’s such a beautiful celebration of queer culture and to feel welcomed in that environment and celebrated and featured is really special.”

Catch Kira Puru at Live at the Bowl’s Midsumma Extravaganza on January 21 – grab your tickets by heading here.

Talk With Me is out across streaming services, check it out by heading here.